Ann McKay: Anglo-Arabian Breeder Spotlight
Although this story begins with a girl and an Arabian stallion named Aazrak, pictured below, their mark on the Anglo-Arabian breed in the US is indelible. (You can read the back story at annmckayhorses.com)
The first, and certainly not the least, of Aazrak’s Anglo-Arabian offspring was Arzab, (below) a gelding foaled in 1965 out of a Thoroughbred mare named Fable-Lass. Arzab placed quite a bit in halter classes as a two year-old, and Ann started him out in baby hunter classes after she had him going under saddle. She had become interested in Combined Training and Dressage but hadn’t had an opportunity yet to take any lessons in either. However Mrs. Bedford, the founder of the Elkridge-Harford Pony Club, had C-rally size fences built around the hunt club, so Ann was able to school there, and she built smaller copies of fences she saw pictured in the Chronicle of the Horse.
With this background, Ann entered Arzab in their first event, at Preliminary level, the New England Three Day Championships. Arzab placed fifth in spite of one stop cross country and taking down a fence in stadium due to his youth and inexperience. His next outing was at Fair Hill, where he still had one stop cross country, but a clean round in stadium under bad weather conditions. Next Ann entered him in an event near Washington D.C. at the old Potomac Horse Center, where Arzab was brave and jumped clear on the cross country, but Ann came off at a big log fence on a curve—the only time she ever fell during an event. Arzab was startled by the sudden appearance of two jump judges chatting in the landing zone and made an enormous, twisting leap over the log, unseating Ann enough that she slid off when he landed. She remounted and they finished the course.
About this time, Ann and her husband, Jim McKay, who had operated a foxhunting and teaching barn together, stopped making their living with horses. Ann also injured her back during this period, and as a consequence, was unable to ride nearly as much as before. So she lent Arzab out to Essie Perkins in Vermont for her daughters to ride.
Beth and Bea Perkins both evented on him, one to Advanced and the other to Preliminary. They took him to training with the USET team at Gladstone, New Jersey, and a couple of their working students also evented with him. Arzab stayed with the Perkinses for eight years, eventually coming home to enjoy a harem of mares, do some hunter trials and even win the Masters Class two years running at the Elkridge-Harford Hunter show. He showed a few times at All-Arabian shows, where the one horse who beat him was another Anglo son of Aazrak, and in his 20’s he was still winning 25 to 50 mile ECTRA competitive trail rides. Obviously, he inherited his sire’s toughness and basic soundness, as the only thing that ever seemed to slow him down was a terrible knee injury from opening a gate and leading his mares down a road, where he was hit by a jeep. Daughter Chris did such a good job with his rehabilitation that he won the Masters Classes after the injury healed.
Waterfoot Larrikin, above, owned by Ann’s friend Jeanie Gore, was the Anglo that outshone Arzab at All-Arabian shows. He evented successfully up to Prelim, when it was discovered that his hocks had arthritic changes. Accordingly, he moved “down” to foxhunting and was a regular with the Elkridge-Harford Hunt, winning a couple of hunter paces as well. As an older horse, Larry introduced several students to eventing at the Beginner Novice and Novice level, and he rounded out his career as a lesson horse for selected beginners a few times a week. Despite the arthritis in his hocks, careful management allowed Larry to be ridden up into his twenties.
Jeanie Gore evented at Preliminary level with two other Aazrak Anglos, Discotheque (“Sam”), out of Skilful Eagle by Talon, and Coreographer, out of a Cormac mare.
Two other Aazrak Anglo offspring owned and ridden by Chris McKay Donovan were Goshen, a full brother to Discotheque, and Gadd John Dee, out of Debbie-K. Goshen, who Ann describes as a “lovely big kind fellow,” was Chris’ Pony Club mount, and she evented him to Preliminary, then sold him as a foxhunter to pay for college. Gadd John Dee, below, was a stallion that Chris evented up through Preliminary as well, and finished in the money at Essex on him her last time out. Named after the well-known local vet John Gadd, GD sired 10 Anglo-Arabian get and 10 Anglo grandget before his death. The announcement that the Enzio mare Jane Morganroth (named for a dear friend of Ann’s) was pregnant to Gadd John Dee brought on gales of laughter from the crowd that was present.
Fralik, an Anglo mare by Aazrak out of Paul’s Dream (TB), started out as a Jr. Hunter in Maryland and Virginia, with wins under the coaching of Billy Boyce. Later shown in jumpers under the name Crack The Sky, she was sold to the Swedish national jumping team. This talented mare competed for them until she rebowed a rear tendon first injured when she was a foal, which ended her career as a jumper. She is believed to have stayed in Sweden as a broodmare.
Aazrak’s influence on the Anglo-Arabian continues today. The bay stallion Post Exchange+//, by Enzio out of Thoroughbred mare Reregret by Sun Again, competed in open hunter shows and then at breed shows. He was named National Champion Half/Anglo Arabian Adult Amateur Working Hunter in 2002 and 2003 before retiring from competition at 20 years of age. Post Exchange was owned and ridden by Ann’s friend Peggy Ingles, and he was one of only a few stallions Ann has sold. He was sold primarily so he would get a chance to compete, as he was a very talented jumper. Besides his national titles, Post Exchange was also named USAE Horse of the Year in 2002. He sired 16 registered Anglo-Arabians and lived until age 30.
The handsome bay Anglo stallion, Quartermaster, by Yankee Lad—also the sire of Olympic gold-medal winner Touch of Class—out of the Enzio Anglo daughter Jane Morganroth (also out of Paul’s Dream), had actively competed in eventing at Preliminary level with Terry Gibson in Vermont. Quartermaster was the 1996 USCTA/ASHAI Arabian Horse of the Year and won the Arrowhead Hildago Memorial Trophy. Later, he was shown jumpers and then hunters by a junior rider. He sired 8 registered Anglos and many warmblood-crosses successful in eventing, endurance and jumping. Sadly, he was euthanized in September, 2006 due to EPM, but bred a few mares here in Maryland in 2005. From his last foal crop is an Anglo colt out of Victoria Regina (Gadd John Dee x TB mare) named Master Plan that Chris is planning to keep for herself.
Offspring from each of these stallions continue to compete today. Notably, Anglo-Arabian Houston, pictured at the very top of this post, sired by Reputed Testamony and out of Amnesty by Quartermaster, competed at Rolex in 2013 with owner Daniel Clasing. Dan and Houston finished an impressive 21st. The pair achieved a double clear on the challenging 4* cross country course, a feat that more experienced horses and riders failed to do.
Admiral Harnly AHR #559453 (Sunset Enzio x SS Magsheba [An Magno x Tochiba]), a 1994 chestnut stallion named for Ann’s father, is carrying on much of the Aazrak line. Admiral Harnly was bred and is owned by Ann McKay and her second daughter, Patricia.
With equine athletes on the ground such as Ironman, Falcon and Hornblower already proving their abilities in the Olympic disciplines, Admiral is the heir apparent to the Aazrak legacy of exceptional Arabian-bred sport horses. Ann and Chris believe he has just as much potential as his sire and grandsire to pass on the stellar qualities that have made Aazrak a legend in the horse world.
Although Ann has retired from her bustling breeding, boarding and teaching business, she continues to stand Admiral and more foals are expected each spring. Thus, the sport horse dynasty begun by Aazrak continues.